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To Fight alongside Friends: The First World War Diaries of Charlie May Audio Download – Unabridged

4.8 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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4.8 out of 5 stars
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The text of this book is taken directly from the personal daily diary of one man, Captain Charlie May. It is a very personal account of his army life from November 1915, when he first went to France to his death, early on 1st July 1916, that most terrible date in British history. It is written in the style of a lengthy account of the ups and downs of his life, the routine, the personal, the men he served with, the mundane and the horrible truth of some of the things he witnessed first hand. From the horrors of trench life to idyllic horse rides through stunning French countryside whilst in reserve, it is all there. The whole is dedicated to his devoted and loving wife, Maud and is an excellent addition to anyone's reading about this period in our history.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This excellent book contains the war time diary of twenty eight year old Captain Charles May of the Twenty Second Manchester Regiment, from his time training on Salisbury Plain in November 1915 till the fateful first of July 1916, when he went over the top with his beloved B Company and was killed by a shell fire at Danzig Alley a short while later.

Captain May was a proud and patriotic Englishman , although he had been born in New Zealand, and was a journalist and short story writer, he had been married just two short years when war broke out and was the proud father of baby Pauline , who had been born in that fateful year of 1914.
His diaries were written up in seven small pocket books and have been edited by his great-nephew, and unlike many war time diaries I have read are detailed, interesting and at times very moving, the more so as the reader realises that as the diary progresses Charlie is nearing the end of his short life and, like a lot of other men of his generation, he had a lot to live for.

The book also contains long and interesting footnotes gleaned from fellow officer's diaries that contain extra detail of events mentioned by Charlie in his diary, there is also a small biography of those people mentioned at the back of the book . As well as a number of photographs, the book also contains two maps of the Somme region, one being a trench map.

I really enjoyed reading this book, it is a fine and worthy tribute to Charlie May and will no doubt become a future classic.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Beautifully written diaries from an honourable man. It is a great Pity Charlie had such a short military career
being killed in his first major battle. An excellent read, however this is a personal diary and does little for WW1 education
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A fantastic book - one of the most harrowing and detailed accounts of life on the Western Front I have ever read. Despite some comments on the language, I believe it really shows the person who he was and complements his powerful descriptions. After all, he was a journalist and accomplished writer.
It really is an emotional and unforgettable journey Captain May takes us on, and I strongly recommend to anyone interested in the First World War that they read this.
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Format: Paperback
The Diaries provide a great insight into the life of the Pals Battalions in the build up to the Battle of the Somme. The author's depth of research has led to a vivid picture, built from Charlie's wonderful prose with further contributions from other members of his Battalion. We see the true life of the men in the trenches and start to understand relationships between the different ranks, staff and branches of the Army.
The conclusion of the story is abrupt and reflects the stark punctuation of the Somme and the impact on just one man's family. In the Centenary Year, this is especially pertinent.
The final sections of the book become somewhat overwhelming. Charlie's love for Maud and Baby are so readily apparent and a driving force through the Diaries. Gerry Harrison's research and portrayal is dramatic, respectful and enthralling. The quality of presentation goes way beyond the realms of a War Book.

A great story for WWI fanatics and accessible read for people with an interest in contemporary history.

On a personal note I learned that one of the men from Merchiston College was known as Lt Aubrey "Bottom" or "Bum" Harris and served as a Bombing Officer with 21st Battalion and likely Trench Mortar Battery. Apologies for such a remote point, but this shows how important it is that these diaries, journals and correspondence should be shared.

We all have our research interests and Gerry has accomplished his passion with five Amazon Stars. For an allegedly battle hardened researcher I was still totally unprepared for the conclusion.

Also remembering Lt A Harris. Killed by a shell 4/9/1916.
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Format: Paperback
Very well written. Insightful and wry they give a fascinating insight in to an officer's views at the time. They cover his time in France until his death on the first day of the battle and as his unit was barely in action consist of training, routine trench life and a lot of football. He was almost unendingly postitive and patriotic with a keen intention of "getting at the Hun". Whether his attitude would have changed in the face of heavy casualties and set backs remains unknown. The book is excellently annotated and well researched but contains at least two slightly bizarre and significant errors. The 22nd Manchester wasn't the right wing of the British army there was another whole division before the French and they weren't the only one to reach their objectives, the 6th Division to their right was also successful. This makes the map of the battle wrong and even more oddly the larger scale map proports to show the Belgian border which is well to the north. However these are minor quibbles and I would thoroughly recommend the book.
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